Quick-Thoughts: Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte (1961)

Michelangelo Antonioni Marathon Part II of V

“Composition” must be Michelangelo Antonioni’s middle name cause holy s**t chill, dude! The film geek inside of me can only take so much of your visual precision!

Without debate, one of the greatest-looking films I’ve ever seen in my entire life, La Notte investigates a married couple too afraid to face the reality of their deceased love for each other. We follow the two’s anxious day as they wait for the results of a friend who is dying in a hospital. As if the situation wasn’t awkward enough already, Antonioni decides to have their relational experiments occur during this very time frame, out in full-view public as the husband searches for reasons to fall for his wife again by scandalously seducing other women, while the wife paradoxically looks for reasons to no longer care for her husband through encounters with other men.

I can understand why this seems to be the favorite of Antonioni’s career, as its narrative is very easy to follow and not polarized by ambiguity; the movie seems to be quite bold in what it wants its audience to compute. We’re given plenty visual incidents of the two’s behavior when it comes to how they interact with and react to other people, and it leaves us determining which pieces are undeniable evidence of their dead-air romantic connection, which pieces reveal each other’s desires in a lover, and which pieces are information needed to figure out why they won’t split apart despite said circumstances.

La Notte pulls a very anti-The Master move on us. Instead of showing us the equality of the teacher and the student, it discloses the inequality of the teacher and the student, mainly because the student(s) in this situation do(es)n’t learn from their teacher(s). Giovanni is a husband who seems to only be married to Lidia so that she can be the stereotypical wife that’s there to look… “wifey”… in the presence of his writing career and work partners. Lidia lives in Giovanni’s affairs rather than both of each other’s, and this unfair exchange in support is what seems to be the dilemma of their love. Lidia doesn’t get anything worthwhile out of this bond because she innately doesn’t like to discover herself, and by nature, this causes Giovanni’s conditioned spotlight in the relationship to become tedious for him. The inability to confront these matters encourages Giovanni to continue cheating, and Lidia to continue sorrowing. Why they don’t break-up is below reason; it’s of social integrity, laziness, and pity, a kind of pity where they couldn’t bear to face that their once long-lived love was forever gone. 

Umm… Happy Valentine’s Day… again, my lovely followers! 

Verdict: A+

My Favorite Movies of All-Time, Michelangelo Antonioni Ranked

“La Notte” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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